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Management of respiratory tract infections in children

Authors Paul SP, Wilkinson R, Routley C

Received 10 July 2014

Accepted for publication 8 August 2014

Published 12 December 2014 Volume 2014:4 Pages 135—148


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr David E. Vance

Siba Prosad Paul,1 Rachel Wilkinson,2 Christine Routley3

1Southmead Hospital, Bristol, 2St Richard's Hospital, Chichester, 3Paediatric Services, Yeovil District Hospital, Yeovil, UK

Abstract: Respiratory tract infections (RTIs) in children are one of the most common reasons for parents consulting health professionals. Most RTIs are self-limiting viral illnesses that will resolve with time and supportive management. However, it is important for the health professional to identify any RTI that may have more serious implications for the child and require medical intervention. Diagnosis can usually be made from the history and presenting symptoms such as cough, wheeze, tachypnea, fever, or stridor. Exclusion of "red flag" symptoms will enable health professionals to appropriately reassure parents and advise symptomatic management with antipyretics and adequate fluid administration. With the expanding role of nurses in ambulatory settings, many children are now being seen by health professionals other than doctors, (eg, advanced nurse practitioners), some of whom are trained in pediatrics while others have limited knowledge of nursing sick children. It is therefore vital that these professionals remain aware of any risk factors and that they can recognize "red flags" in a sick child rapidly and escalate further management appropriately. Some children will require admission to hospital for respiratory support and other therapies, such as intravenous antibiotics and fluids. With advancement of the "non-medical prescriber" within the nursing profession, awareness of when to give or not give antibiotic therapy needs careful consideration, especially in light of the problems that may arise from overuse of antibiotic treatment. Nurses have a vital role, not only in administering medications and supporting other medical interventions, but also in supporting the child and family over the period of illness. The education of the parents and the child, in some instances, about prevention and avoidance to reduce the risks of any further RTIs must be addressed, including immunization and smoking cessation.

Keywords: respiratory tract infections, children, red flags, holistic care, immunization

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